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A Rock Which Is a Part of All iPhones

Joint project of St.-Petersburg Mining museum and Forpost Nord-West.
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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

This rare and beneficial mineral is composed of almost an entire periodic table. However, there are very few deposits where it can be mined — less than a dozen in the whole world, with the largest one located in Russia.

Eudialyte was always and still is an object of human attention due to its vibrant colours. In fact, the mineral’s red-brown colour sparked numerous legends. Finno-Ugric peoples, for instance, thought that the blood of their brave ancestors who had died in battles for independence with Swedes ran through the mineral. Therefore they used to make talismans from eudialyte. A common belief was that the stone could turn a coward into the braveheart, and warriors thus had to carry along a piece of rock when joining a battle.

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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

Eudialyte was also extremely popular among magicians, particularly from the middle of XIX century — again, thanks to its appearance. At the time, it was common to carve crystal balls from samples of eudialyte and use them during spirit sessions. The logic behind the material choice was as follows: stone’s surface started flickering if it was polished, that way adding an element of mystique to the whole process.

Many years had passed before people found out of the risks deriving from the work with this stone. It turned out that eudialyte may contain various inclusions of radioactive elements - strontium, uranium, and some others. Perhaps that is why so many fortune-tellers were often ill, felt weak or dizzy.

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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

Eudialyte has, as of now, become a valuable raw material from which rare-earth metals are extracted. According to experts, the role of rare-earth elements in the growth of the global economy is only bound to increase. They are needed for manufacturing iPhones, for example, or military equipment, including jet engines among others.

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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

A significant advantage of eudialyte compared to other sources of rare-earth metals is that mining of the former is more environmentally-friendly. It does not harm the environment that much, nor it causes water, soil, or air pollution through radioactive contamination. Raw eudialyte stone, in turn, can be characterised by low content of radioactive thorium and uranium in the ore. Consequently, it does not require adopting sophisticated treatment processes.

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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

Eudialyte is not a popular jewellery material. Masters prefer not to use it since there are radioactive elements in the stone’s content. The most hazardous specimens are usually the ones of the bright-red colour. Besides, the mineral rarely forms fancy crystals because of its structure.

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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей